While there is a place in this world for a sleek fondant-covered cake (cue the wedding bells), there is something to be said for a hand-crafted, homemade, not-so-fancy birthday cake. Slaved & stressed over with attention to details the recipient would like - not what's going to be so darn photogenic. This isn't Ace of Cakes over here.
My friend Martin had a birthday this week. He's been talking about German Chocolate Cake ever since he made a carrot cake but thought he was making a German Chocolate Cake instead. Editors Note: I don't know how that happened either so don't ask me. As my birthday gift to him, I thought I'd make one from scratch. As I've said before, baking scares the crap out of me so a multi-layered, frosted & decorated version is something I would normally call in an order for. Instead, I Frankenstein-ed a couple recipes together and came up with a sweet, chocolatey, gooey hit. This is a heavy hitter chocolate bomb so don't expect diet food. Oh yeah, it has a little booze in it, too.
- 4 ounces baker's chocolate (preferably: Baker's German Sweet Chocolate)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Coconut Pecan Filling, recipe follows
- Chocolate frosting - I used David Lebovitz's recipe below but use your own favorite recipe if you prefer
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, vanilla extract, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the melted chocolate. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk, alternating, until just combined. Stir in bourbon, if using.
- Add the egg whites to a small bowl and beat with an egg beater until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the batter until well incorporated.
- Pour the batter evenly into 2 buttered/prepared (9-inch) cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes depending on your oven. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before filling and frosting.
for the Coconut Pecan Filling:
- 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
- 5 egg yolks, slightly beaten
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup butter
- 2 1/2 cups flaked coconut - reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish on top of cake
- 2 cups toasted pecans - reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish on top of cake
- Combine the evaporated milk, slightly beaten egg yolks, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and butter in a large saucepan or heavy pot over low heat. When the butter melts raise the heat to medium, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken after 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the coconut and pecans (except for those reserved for the top cake garnish) and cool before frosting the cakes.
For the Chocolate Icing:
- 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 ½ ounces unsalted butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Kahlua (optional)
- Heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in Kahlua, if using. Let sit until room temperature.
To Assemble the German Chocolate Cake:
- Put a cake layer on top of a serving plate. Drizzle cake layer with 1 tablespoon bourbon or other liquor. Top with a generous layer of the caramel/pecan filling. Cover the frosting with another cake layer, drizzle that layer with 1 tbsp. of bourbon and spread with the frosting. Top with the final layer and frost. Spread remaining coconut/pecan filling on top of cake and sprinkle with extra toasted coconut & pecans.
Spread dark chocolate frosting around the outside of the entire cake. I piped a decorative trim on the top layer to connect the side chocolate frosting to the top - this is optional but I think it makes a nice finishing touch.